Tuesday, July 3, 2012

D.C. Loses Power, Journalists Revolt

A few days ago, a freak weather occurrence called a "derecho" (it's a real thing - I googled it and everything) blew through Washington, D.C., resulting in more than 1 million people losing their power (i.e., electricity - it is D.C., you have to explain what form of "power" you are speaking of). Naturally, the political chattering class was up in arms over mother nature having the temerity to snuff out their air conditioning during a heat wave and even more pissed off at the weak response of the power companies responsible for getting the lights back on. 

Miraculously, the Fourth Estate found various Starbucks (Starbii?), offices and other locations that had not lost power to tweet out their outrage at being so inconvenienced.  I had to chuckle. In fact, I had to tweet in response to the cosseted elite having to "slum it" for a few days by suggesting that (1) New Orleans could avoid another Katrina by moving the nation's capital there, because boy howdy, rich white people know how to complain and get results - no huddling on rooftops or being corralled into a sports arena - no, no - they grab a latte and peck away on their MacBooks; (2) that instead of whining about being "hot" because their homes were without air conditioning, that they think about what it would be like to not have health insurance (a true necessity); and (3) consider the work done by those oft-criticized public sector workers like cops, firefighters, sanitation workers and public works employees who mobilize en masse when emergencies like this occur.

In other words, perhaps the media elite, instead of lamenting a few muggy evenings spent in their suburban manses, might consider the broader ramifications of the derecho when they report on the politics of the day. For example, when they interview and speak with politicians who, variously, call for cuts to public sector employment or lambast the federal government (but beg for disaster relief money), ask whether investing in "smart grids" might mitigate some of the power outages we experience, what role first responders can and do play during blackouts and what role climate change is playing in weather patterns that most people who study this stuff, think is pretty troublesome. 

Of course, expressing such sentiments in 140 characters is impossible, so I did what any self-respecting, but voiceless, American would do - I responded to tweets by D.C. journalists and called them sniveling whiners. Unsurprisingly, I did not get much of a response, though Politico's Roger Simon (whose writing I do enjoy!) got huffy with me after he tweeted about traffic lights being out and the danger that posed. I responded by noting that police, who people like Mitt Romney think there are too many of, help do things like direct traffic and respond to emergencies in situations like this, and that Simon might want to think about that instead of tweeting about how shitty PEPCO is. Needless to say, Mr. Simon is not following me on Twitter.  

Anyway, what really chapped my ass was the sense of entitlement people who have SO MUCH engaged in. Yes, being without power stinks, whether it's in 100 degree heat or a below zero deep freeze, but you know what REALLY sucks? Not having health coverage and being one illness or ailment away from penury. Maybe it was because the blackout happened so close to the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act that brought this disconnection into much sharper relief for me. While Republican Governors threaten to not sign up for expanded Medicaid and thereby deny poor and near poor citizens access to health care, some knucklehead from The Washington Post is bitching about the food in his refrigerator going bad. Not being able to plug your iPhone in seems much less important than when elected officials whose own children are able to stay on their health plans thanks to the ACA go on cable talk shows to complain about a government take over of health care and are not challenged about it. Most journalists simply allow this stuff to slide because hey, what do they care? THEY have health insurance, THEY do not have to worry about a loved one becoming ill and not being able to afford to get the best treatment money can buy and when THEY lose power, they can grab their bullhorn, be it on Twitter, cable news or the pages of their newspapers and absolutely crucify power companies for not getting their plasma TVs functioning again. 

I guess you can do that when you have basic necessities, like a job, a car, a home, a bank account, food on the table, medical coverage and no risk of stray bullets entering your home.  It's far easier to get your panties in a twist over losing air conditioning for a few days, but it would be GREAT if the journalistic elite in D.C. got out of the Beltway bubble from time to time and visited places that do without air conditioning as a matter of course, not because a once in 100 year storm blows through town.  They would probably find many of those places also have many people who don't have health insurance, rely on the police to patrol their streets to keep them safe (or as safe as they can expect to be) and live one medical calamity away from bankruptcy. If nothing else, it might turn them away from acting like tweens on the Internet before running off to opine on the manufactured political food fight of the day on cable news. 


  1. reminiscent of the joe pesci movie "the super" where a slumlord is ordered by a judge to live in one of his slum buildings among the poorest of the poor. if any GOP anti ACA, anti food stamp, anti poor republican was forced to live like those they despise that would be fitting punishment for their misdeeds. honestly, i would and have complained of no a/c during blackouts, but i am old enough to remember when we lived with 1 ac unit in a bronx walkup. since i lived in what one would call below middle class growing up, i relish my life now. while i agree that we need a universal healthcare system which would actully work for everyone, but would upset the GOP more since it would emulate communisim it would take down the means of production insomuch as the corporate world of health care is production, i also think that this will eventually be a non issue once the GOP realizes they cant and wont be able to undue the ACA. i try to not forget where i came from, but my 16 yr old daughter cant understand how her 100 yr old HS has no AC, a young lady who has her flat screen,her electronic gadgits and doesnt really want for anything at least in her mind, has all she needs and wants. i imagine many people under 25 cant imagine living as i did and as some still do and need to live it first hand, like in the super.

  2. I have a simpler solution. Everyone who deducts their mortgage interest should instead get a Tax Rebate - and they should have to go stand in line at the Welfare Office to pick it up.